“Whew” should be the first reaction Esks fans have after a 46-17 thrashing of the previously undefeated REDBLACKS who conjured up a pretty good imitation of awful Ottawa franchises of days gone by.
The sigh of relief should be due largely to the fact that Matt Nichols, subbing for the injured starter Mike Reilly, exceeded expectations for those expecting him to throw interceptions, get injured or both. Presented with his best opportunity to showcase for either the Esks, or another team (Ottawa??), Nichols played it smart and safe by going to Adarius Bowman, who finished the night with 121 yards on just 5 catches.
Nichols numbers were by no means eye popping, 12-21 passing for 212 yards and three TDS. The only real blemish and the one critics will reach for was the forward pitch pass into the ample stomach of Ottawa defensive lineman Zach Evans who rumbled, yes rumbled, 66 yards for a major.
Hard to render judgement on the Eskimo defence that was facing a befuddled Ottawa attack that found creative ways to be bad. Suffice to say they turned in a better effort than that offered up in the season opening loss to the Argos.
The Esks O-line, already missing All-Star Simeon Rottier, suffered another hit when Greg Wojt crumpled and lay face down for several minutes after what seemed like a relatively mild collision.
Finding a dependable and durable kick returner has been a sore point for the Esks in recent years. Many have been tried and most have been found wanting. Rookie Skye Dawson was busy, and effective, returning 9 punts for 148 yards on the night.